Comic Reviews: Superior Spider-Man and X-Force!
Superior Spider-Man #1 (Marvel Comics)
As promised, Otto Octavius takes center stage once more in a brand new Superior Spider-Man series from Marvel. After laying dormant for a few months, the character made a big return in his own Superior Octopus one-shot and the Spider-Geddon event that played out through the Fall, and now he’s got a brand new ongoing series. As a big fan of the original Superior series, it’s good to have Otto back, and the fact that Christos Gage and Mike Hawthorne are returning to the character after their Superior Octopus special makes the return even sweeter.
Picking up after the events of Spider-Geddon (which you don’t need to have read), Superior Spider-Man finds Otto Octavius living under the new identity of Eliot Tolliver, a prized professor with Horizon Labs. He’s also the costumed hero Spider-Man, or at least, one of the many spider-characters that goes by that name. Operating out of San Francisco, Otto has done his fair share to keep the city crime free, and the network of “reformed” criminals under his tutelage are doing more than enough to help him accomplish his goals of fighting crime. But when his old colleague and former lover Anna Marie returns to his life, she knows that Eliot Tolliver is not all that he seems, and is determined to reveal his secret. But when the cosmic menace known as Blastaar arrives in the Bay Area, will it be too much for Otto to handle?
One of the great things about Superior Spider-Man #1 is the fact that it distills the many events that got Otto Octavius to this place in a very succinct and entertaining way. Even though I’ve been following the character since he first swapped bodies with Peter Parker, at no point was I bored by Christos Gage’s script, which is pretty damn impressive when you think about it. Getting a new reader up to speed on just regular Spider-Man would be tough to pull off, but with a character like Otto Octavius, it’s almost impossible. But Gage somehow pulls it off, and gives Otto the type of side characters that really make the Spider-Man family of books their own. Having Otto contend with not only the villains he has working for him, but also Anna Marie, who knows first hand that Tolliver isn’t who he says he is, make s for some really fun comics, and Gage is clearly having a blast on the series.
We already know how well Mike Hawthorne can draw Otto’s adventures from the Superior Octopus one-shot, but it’s worth repeating here: the man can draw. Hawthorne handles all of the aspects of Gage’s script with ease, alternating between crazy action set pieces to inter-office drama between Otto and his co-workers. At no time does it look rushed or half-hearted, and if he can keep this up I could see Gage and Hawthorne becoming one of the great comic teams on the stands.
Superior Spider-Man is back, and while it’s got a few new tricks under it’s sleeve, it’s also refreshingly familiar. Now “free” from his villainous ways, the real hook of the series will be if Otto’s super-villainy was due to the radiation from his initial accident, and if he can truly become the hero he believes he is. I have a feeling he thinks a little too highly of himself, but I’m very much invested in the ride.
X-Force #1 (Marvel Comics)
While the X-Force has gone through many different rosters, their goal as a team has been relatively the same: protect mutants without the general public knowing of their existence. They’ve been under the command of everyone from Cable, to Psylocke, to Cyclops, but with Ed Brisson and Dylan Burnett’s X-Force #1, the original roster reunites to seek out one of their own: the younger version of Cable!
Picking up after the events of Extermination, X-Force finds Domino, Warpath, Shatterstar, Cannonball, and Boom Boom hunting the mysterious younger version of their former leader. Since they still don’t know where this version of Cable came from, and more specifically, why he’s working with anti-mutant terrorists, the team has a vested interest in tracking him down. But when they find him, they end up wrapped up in his schemes, and find themselves wanted just like Cable is.
Much like his current Uncanny X-Men run with Matthew Rosenberg and Kelly Thompson, Ed Brisson’s strength with this script lies in his “back to basics” approach to the X-Force. There’s no crazy alternate reality, out-there premise, or weird villains, it’s just a team of mutants trying to prevent anti-mutant villains before they strike. Brisson keeps the plot moving and action intense, giving this issue an almost spy-movie like feel. It’s a solid writing debut that hints at some cool things to come for the book.
Things don’t work quite as well on the art side of things, with Dylan Burnett’s style being a little too all over the place for my tastes. At times Burnett’s style reminds me a lot of Gabriel Ba’s Umbrella Academy, but there were more times where his art just looked rushed and sloppy. It’s honestly a real shame, because aside from the art, X-Force is really cool.
Even though the art was pretty lackluster, I’m still going to keep checking out X-Force. Ed Brisson has proven himself to be a very reliable creator for Marvel, and he’s got a knack for writing these kind of extreme, violent characters. If the art improves, Marvel could have an X-Force book that sells as well as the series that started it all.
Posted on December 26, 2018, in Comic reviews and tagged Christos Gage, Dylan Burnett, Ed Brisson, Marvel Comics, Mike Hawthorne, Superior Spider-Man, X-Force. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.